Celebrities Who Changed Their Reputations Overnight

In Hollywood, a celebrity's reputation often rests in their own fragile hands. Sometimes, they can use that power to their advantage; other times, it can destroy them altogether. Here are some celebs who've managed to change their reputations in the blink of an eye...for better or worse. 

Paula Deen

Paula Deen's empire fell apart overnight after the controversial chef was sued by a former employee for racial discrimination and sexual harassment. During the controversy, Deen admitted under deposition that she had used the "N-word" multiple times in her life. She subsequently lost many of her high-profile sponsors, including Walmart and The Food Network. Some fans stuck by her side—until a disastrous 2013 interview on the Today show. During the segment, Deen seemed desperate to come off sympathetic and apologetic. Instead, she looked exhausted, flustered, and worst of all, dishonest. After that interview, her reputation melted away like a stick of butter on a hot skillet.

And yet, this being Hollywood, Deen has continued to find ways to make serious cash since the scandal. Recent professional ventures include everything from a clothing line, to a new series, and even a spin on Dancing With the Stars. Well, bless her heart.

Mel Gibson

In 1996, Mel Gibson collected two Oscars for directing the iconic war drama Braveheart. A little more than a decade later, he was arrested on a DUI charge, during which he allegedly went on an anti-Semitic rant. As a result of the arrest, Gibson—who two years prior directed the controversial, but widely seen religious drama The Passion of the Christ—went from a global superstar to one of the most reviled men in Hollywood. It's a title he's never quite been able to shake, much as he's tried to move on.

Perhaps time may heal all wounds, even for Gibson. In 2017, his WWII film Hacksaw Ridge won two Oscars and, perhaps more impressively, earned Gibson a nomination for best director. Seriously, if Hollywood can forgive Gibson for his alleged anti-Semitic rant, literally anything is possible in life.

Natasha Lyonne

Movie and TV fans probably know Natasha Lyonne for her highly praised work in American Pie (1999) and the Netflix dramedy Orange is the New Black (2013-), but at a point between those projects, Lyonne's personal life came crashing down. According to Today, she battled a serious addiction to drugs that landed her in the slammer and, at one point, in the hospital for "hepatitis C, a heart infection, a collapsed lung and [was] covered in track marks."

The lovable actress eventually straightened herself out, but speaking to Entertainment Weekly in 2012, Lyonne admitted the road to recovery was far from easy. "Spiraling into addiction is really, really scary," she said. "Some things have a very A-to-B scientific effect. Like, alcohol is a depressant. Cocaine is a stimulant. And then: Cocaine plus heroin is bad! That's the point of my story, that's the moral. Coke plus heroin equals speedball. And speedball equals bad, you know?"

"It's weird to talk about," she added. "I was definitely as good as dead, you know? A lot of people don't come back. That makes me feel wary, and self-conscious. I wouldn't want to feel prideful about it. People really rallied around me and pulled me up by my f**king bootstraps. There was a warrant for my arrest, which helped too."

Ben Affleck

At the start of 2004, Ben Affleck's career seemed like it was pretty much over. His high-profile engagement to Jennifer Lopez had been called off, and his filmography had more bombs than Wile E. Coyote, so it made sense when Affleck attempted a career revival behind the camera.

His first effort came in 2007 with Gone Baby Gone. The film was a critical smash, earning Affleck the kind of rave reviews he hadn't seen since he won an Oscar for Good Will Hunting in 1998. Once the laughing stock of Hollywood, Affleck was suddenly a respected, sought-after director. His follow-up movies were even bigger hits. The Town (2010) earned nearly $100 million at the box office, and Argo won the best picture Oscar in 2013. Suddenly, Gigli (2003) felt like a figment of one's imagination. Well, almost, anyway.

Beyoncé and Jay-Z

Beyoncé and Jay-Z seemed to have a fool-proof—or at least a press-proof—marriage for years. Then, in May 2014, TMZ obtained shocking video footage of Beyoncé's sister, Solange Knowles, physically attacking Jay-Z inside an elevator. The clip was a public-relations nightmare for the billion-dollar couple and opened the door to rumors that Jay-Z may have cheated on Bey.

Although the trio quickly released a statement, Beyoncé and Jay-Z otherwise remained quiet on the matter, instead letting their music speak for itself. In fact, many believe Beyoncé's critically acclaimed 2016 album, Lemonade, was based on Jay-Z's alleged infidelities and their marital problems. Granted, Lemonade is widely considered to be one of the most influential albums of the last decade, but even so, making it out of real-life lemons was probably a sour experience.

Robert Downey Jr.

In the 1990s and early 2000s, Robert Downey Jr.'s career was filled with more ups and downs than a wooden roller coaster. His reputation was so bad that by the time casting for Iron Man came around, studios flat-out rejected his name. Director Jon Favreau went to bat for him, and Downey Jr. eventually landed the part that would transform his career from a drug-addicted washout to one of Hollywood's top names.

Downey Jr. has since made millions off the Marvel series—named the world's highest paid actor multiple years in a row. Not bad for a guy who spent the start of the new millennium in prison.

Taylor Swift

From the moment Kanye West interrupted her acceptance speech at the 2009 MTV Video Music Awards, Taylor Swift became America's favorite victim: a young, innocent, country girl who had been humiliated by a wacky rapper who apparently cared more about Hennessy than his reputation. Whether deliberately or not, Swift carried that narrative with her through multiple scandals in the years that followed, many of which involved West looking silly and Swift getting the final word.

And then the year 2016 happened, which saw Swift's house of cards collapse in disastrous fashion. Among her biggest faux-pas: a nasty breakup with DJ Calvin Harris, an eye-roll-inducing fling with actor Tom Hiddleston, and a wild feud with West's wife, Kim Kardashian. The latter proved a formidable opponent when she released video footage on Snapchat of Swift seemingly approving a controversial song by West that Swift had previously called "misogynistic" in the press.

Whether Swift is actually the snake that Kardashian implied remains up for debate, but one thing is sure: after 2016, nobody thinks of Swift as that innocent girl with the guitar anymore, not even Swift herself.

Matthew McConaughey

If Swift's 2016 was the epitome of a terrible, no good, very bad year, Matthew McConaughey's 2013 was the exact opposite.

After quietly setting the stage for a comeback in 2012, thanks to his acclaimed performance in Steven Soderbergh's Magic Mike (2012), McConaughey entered 2013 ready to make everyone forget about Failure to Launch (2006), Fool's Gold (2008), and all of the other crappy romantic comedies he made earlier in his career. First came the indie drama Mud (2012), which earned McConaughey rave reviews and established him as an edgier actor. Then came the big wallop, Dallas Buyers Club (2013). McConaughey lost more than 40 pounds to play dying AIDS patient Ron Woodroof. His performance in the film won him pretty much every award in Hollywood, including an Oscar. The rebirth of his career was so impressive that some referred to this period as the "McConaissance."

McConaughey followed up Dallas Buyers Club with an acclaimed performance on the HBO miniseries True Detective (2014) and a role in Christopher Nolan's space epic Interstellar (2014). Subsequent parts haven't caught on quite as much, but after the success he had in 2013 and 2014, nobody would be surprised if McConaughey soon earned another shot at Oscar gold.

Martha Stewart

Martha Stewart, America's most infamous domestic diva, saw her career fall to pieces when she was sentenced to five months in prison and then five months of house arrest in 2004 for her alleged involvement in an insider trading scandal. Being the savvy businesswoman that she is, Stewart has managed to write a new chapter of success and cultural relevance for herself through her charming, if unconventional, friendship with the rapper Snoop Dogg.

According to People, their friendship actually dates back to Stewart's daytime talk show Martha, which Dogg appeared on a couple of times to make mashed potatoes and brownies, naturally. But the dynamic duo didn't start making huge headlines until 2015's Comedy Central Roast of Justin Bieber, after which Stewart claimed she got a contact high from Dogg's joints.

From there, future opportunities were born, including a guest spot on The $100,000 Pyramid (2016-) and, perhaps most excitingly, their own cooking show on VH1, for which Stewart and Dogg received Emmy nominations in 2017. Granted, they lost to RuPaul, but the fact that this odd couple charmed millions of Americans in the most unexpected of ways is probably worth more than a gold statue.

Kevin Hart

During his meteoric rise to fame, actor and comedian Kevin Hart made millions of people laugh, but in September 2017, he made just as many people furious. News broke that Hart had been targeted in an alleged extortion plot connected to a video that supposedly shows him engaging in "sexually suggestive" conduct with a woman who is certainly not his pregnant wife, Eniko Parrish. Not funny.

Reports of the extortion attempt emerged after Hart posted a cryptic video to Instagram apologizing to Parrish and his children for making "a bad error in judgment" and putting himself "in a bad environment where only bad things can happen." Getting ahead of the scandal didn't stop the bleeding. In the days since his admission, Hart, who has been accused of cheating in the past, has dodged awkward headlines involving not just the woman in the video, but also involving his first wife, who recently told Inside Edition that "lies and infidelity" ruined their relationship.

So, yeah, this probably won't go away anytime soon.

Tom Cruise

In May 2005, Tom Cruise went from being America's favorite actor to, uh, something else, all thanks to a painfully awkward interview on The Oprah Winfrey Show. During his visit, Cruise jumped on Oprah's couch and declared his love for then-girlfriend Katie Holmes. The interview was one stop on a career-changing press tour for Cruise's movie, War of the Worlds (2005) which also put the actor's controversial belief in the Church of Scientology in the hot seat. Nowhere was this more prevalent than during his June 2005 interview with Matt Lauer, when the actor and the journalist sparred over model Brooke Shields' comments about using medication to treat postpartum depression.

Though he remains one of Hollywood's biggest box-office draws, Cruise also remains a fixture in the tabloids due to the fallout from his relationship with Holmes and especially his ties to Scientology. In fact, some have argued that Cruise's relationship with the church has been so damaging that it nearly destroyed his career altogether.

Miley Cyrus

For years, Miley Cyrus was the bubbly, yet dorky star of the Disney Channel series Hannah Montana (2006-11), and then, suddenly, she was not.

In what felt like the blink of an eye, Cyrus transformed her image from an innocent teen star to a twerking, pot-smoking, wrecking-ball-swinging wild child that left the majority of Americans confused and, in the case of her 2013 MTV Video Music Awards performance with Robin Thicke, downright uncomfortable.

Cyrus has since begun cleaning up her image, opting for a pot-free, hippie-esque vibe instead of all that twerking. It appears to be paying off in multiple respects: she's back together with ex-fiancé Liam Hemsworth, and the music off her 2017 album, Younger Now, is heating up the charts. Could this mean that a 24-year-old Cyrus is finally growing up? After all the drama she's put us through over the last few years, we hope the answer is yes.

Jesse James

Although their relationship never quite made sense on paper, America gave the green light to actress Sandra Bullock and West Coast Choppers founder Jesse James, especially after seeing how happy he made her. Sadly, the love affair didn't last. Just weeks after Bullock won an Oscar for The Blind Side in 2010, reports emerged that James had cheated on her with a tattoo model who once dressed up as a Nazi. The horror continued when Us Weekly unearthed a photo of James posing as Adolph Hitler and doing the Nazi salute.

Bullock filed for divorce in April that year. Afterward, James embarked on an equally tumultuous relationship with tattoo artist Kat von D, which was also plagued by rumors of infidelity, before marrying drag racer Alexis DeJoria in 2013. The bike builder said tabloid tales about his personal life damaged his business. Reflecting on his marriage to Bullock in March 2017, James called cheating a "part of life."

Amanda Bynes

For years, Amanda Bynes was known for being that young, quirky, and vaguely awkward teenage star from Nickelodeon's All That (1994-2005) and The Amanda Show (1999-2002). Then, starting in 2013, the former child star shocked her fans when she made headlines for her increasingly erratic behavior both in public and in private. During the peak of the drama, she became known for posting bizarre, often offensive Tweets online, some of which targeted high-profile figures, including Drake, Rihanna, and the president of the United States.

Following a series of arrests and involuntary hospitalizations, Bynes was placed under the temporary conservatorship of her parents in 2014, which seems to have worked. In 2016, on the heels of her 30th birthday, People reported that the former child star was "healthier than ever."

In 2017, Bynes gave her first interview in years and talked about getting sober, enjoying classes at the Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising (FIDM), and wanting to pursue acting again. Sure, the interview was awkward as hell, but hey, nothing will ever be as uncomfortable as the time she said she wanted Drake to murder her vagina.

Chris Pratt

Thanks to his role on NBC's Parks and Recreation (2009-15), Chris Pratt quickly became known for being TV's go-to, kind of overweight, funny guy. Then, in July 2013, he transformed his reputation with a single Instagram pic. The now-famous photo features a shirtless Pratt showing off ripped arms and washboard abs, the result of his intense training for his role as Peter Quill in Marvel's Guardians of the Galaxy (2014). That film turned Pratt into Hollywood's newest and most sought-after leading man, a modern-day Tom Cruise of sorts.

Hiss overnight success continued well into 2015 when he starred in Jurassic World, which became one of the biggest blockbusters of all time. He has since worked with Oscar winners Denzel Washington and Jennifer Lawrence. Come on, no one thought this would happen for Andy Dwyer.